The Mahabharata Home
"Arjuna said, 'Thou art now, O Kesava, the best friend of all the Kurus. Related with both the parties, thou art the dear friend of both. It behoveth thee to bring about peace between the Pandavas and the sons of Dhritarashtra. Thou, O Kesava, art competent and, therefore, it behoveth thee to bring about a reconciliation. O lotus-eyed one, proceeding hence for peace, O slayer of foes, say unto our ever-wrathful brother Suyodhana, what, indeed, should be said, 'If the foolish Duryodhana doth not accept thy auspicious and beneficial counsels fraught with virtue and profit, he will surely then be the victim of his fate.'
"The holy one said, 'Yes, I will go to king Dhritarashtra, desirous of accomplishing what is consistent with righteousness, what may be beneficial to us, and what also is for the good of the Kurus.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'The night having passed away, a bright sun arose in the east. The hour called Maitra set in, and the rays of the sun were still mild. The month was (Kaumuda Kartika) under the constellation Revati. It was the season of dew, Autumn having departed. The earth was covered with abundant crops all around. It was at such a time that Janardana, the foremost of mighty persons, in enjoyment of excellent health, having heard the auspicious, sacred-sounding and sweet words of gratified Brahmanas, like Vasava himself hearing the adorations of the (celestial) Rishis,--and having also gone through the customary acts and rites of the morning, purified himself by a bath, and decked his person with unguents and ornaments, worshipped both the Sun and Fire. And having touched the tail of a bull and reverently bowed to the Brahmanas, walked round the sacred fire, and cast his eyes on the (usual) auspicious articles placed in view, Janardana recollected Yudhishthira's word and addressed Sini's grandson Satyaki, seated near, saying, 'Let my car be made ready and let my conch and discus along with my mace, and quivers and darts and all kinds of weapons, offensive and defensive, be placed on it, for Duryodhana and Karna and Suvala's son are all of wicked souls, and foes, however contemptible, should never be disregarded by even a powerful person. Understanding the wishes
of Kesava, the wielder of the discus and the mace, his attendants immediately addressed themselves to yoke his car. And that car resembled in effulgence the fire that shows itself at the time of the universal dissolution, and itself in speed. And it was provided with two wheels that resembled the sun and the moon in lustre. And it bore emblazonments of moons, both crescent and full, and of fishes, animals, and birds and it was adorned with garlands of diverse flowers and with pearls and gems of various kinds all around. And endued with the splendour of the rising sun, it was large and handsome. And variegated with gems and gold, it was furnished with an excellent flag-staff bearing beautiful pennons. And well-supplied with every necessary article, and incapable of being resisted by the foe, it was covered with tiger-skins, and capable of robbing the fame of every foe, it enhanced the joy of the Yadavas. And they yoked unto it those excellent steeds named Saivya and Sugriva and Meghapushpa and Valahaka, after these had been bathed and attired in beautiful harness. And enhancing the dignity of Krishna still further, Garuda, the lord of the feathery creation, came and perched on the flag-staff of that car producing a terrible rattle. And Saurin then mounted on that car, high as the summit of the Meru, and producing a rattle, deep and loud as the sound of the kettle-drum or the clouds and which resembled the celestial car coursing at the will of the rider. And taking Satyaki also upon it, that best of male beings set out, filling the earth and the welkin with the rattle of his chariot-wheels. And the sky became cloudless, and auspicious winds began to blow around, and the atmosphere freed from the dust became pure. Indeed, as Vasudeva set out, auspicious animals and birds, whirling by the right side, began to follow him, and cranes and peacocks and swans all followed the slayer of Madhu, uttering cries of good omens. The very fire, fed with Homa libations in accompaniment with Mantras, freed from smoke blazed up cheerfully, sending forth its flames towards the right. And Vasishtha and Vamadeva, and Bhuridyumna and Gaya, and Kratha and Sukra and Kusika and Bhrigu, and other Brahmarshis and celestial Rishis united together, all stood on the right side of Krishna, that delighter of the Yadavas, that younger brother of Vasava. And thus worshipped by those and other illustrious Rishis and holy men, Krishna set out for the residence of the Kurus. And while Krishna was proceeding, Yudhishthira, the son of Kunti, followed him, as also Bhima and Arjuna and those other Pandavas, viz., the twin sons of Madri. And the valiant Chekitana and Dhrishtaketu, the ruler of the Chedis, and Drupada and the king of Kasi and that mighty car-warrior Sikhandin, and Dhrishtadyumna, and Virata with his sons, and the princes of Kekaya also,--all these Kshatriyas followed that bull of the Kshatriya race to honour him. And the illustrious king Yudhishthira the just, having followed Govinda to some distance, addressed him in these words in the presence of all those kings. And the son of Kunti embraced that foremost of all persons, who never, from desire, or anger, or fear, or purpose of gain
committed the least wrong, whose mind was ever steady, who was a stranger to covetousness, who was conversant with morality and endued with great intelligence and wisdom, who knew the hearts of all creatures and was the lord of all, who was the God of gods, who was eternal, who was possessed of every virtue, and who bore the auspicious mark on his breast. And embracing him the king began to indicate what he was to do.'
"Yudhishthira said, 'That lady who hath brought us from our infancy; who is ever engaged in facts and ascetic penances and propitiatory rites and ceremonies; who is devoted to the worship of the gods and guests; who is always engaged in waiting upon her superiors who is fond of her sons, bearing for them an affection that knows no bounds; who, O Janardana, is dearly loved by us; who, O grinder of foes, repeatedly saved us from the snares of Suyodhana, like a boat saving a ship-wrecked crew from the frightful terrors of the sea; and who, O Madhava, however undeserving of woe herself, hath on our account endured countless sufferings,--should be asked about her welfare-Salute and embrace, and, oh, comfort her over and over, overwhelmed with grief as she is on account of her sons by talking of the Pandavas. Ever since her marriage she hath been the victim, however undeserving, of sorrow and griefs due to the conduct of her father-in-law, and suffering hath been her position. Shall I, O Krishna, ever see the time when, O chastiser of foes, my afflictions being over, I shall be able to make my sorrowing mother happy? On the eve of our exile, from affection for her children, she ran after us in anguish, crying bitterly. But leaving her behind, we went into the woods. Sorrow doth not necessarily kill. It is possible, therefore, that she is alive, being hospitably entertained by the Anartas, though afflicted with sorrow on account of her sons. O glorious Krishna, salute her for me, the Kuru king Dhritarashtra also, and all those monarchs who are senior to us in age, and Bhishma, and Drona, and Kripa, and king Vahlika, and Drona's son and Somadatta, and in fact, every one of the Bharata race, and also Vidura endued with great wisdom, that counsellor of the Kurus, of profound intellect and intimate acquaintance with morality,--should all, O slayer of Madhu, be embraced by thee!' Having in the presence of the kings, said these words unto Kesava, Yudhishthira, with Krishna's permission, came back having at first walked round him. Then Arjuna, proceeding a few steps, further said unto his friend, that bull among men, that slayer of hostile heroes, that invincible warrior of Dasarha's race, 'It is known to all the kings, O illustrious Govinda, that at our consultation it was settled that we should ask back the kingdom. If without insulting us, if honouring thee, they honestly give us what we demand, then, O mighty armed one, they would please me greatly and would themselves escape a terrible danger. If, however, Dhritarashtra's son, who always adopts improper means, acts otherwise, then I shall surely, O Janardana, annihilate the Kshatriya race.'
"Vaisampayana continued, 'When Arjuna said these words, Vrikodara was filled with delight. And that son of Pandu continually quivered with rage; and while still quivering with rage and the delight that filled his heart upon hearing Dhananjaya's words, he set forth a terrible shout. And hearing that shout of his, all the bowmen trembled in fear and steeds and elephants were seen to pass urine and excreta. And having addressed Kesava then and informed him of his resolution. Arjuna with Janardana's permission, came back, having first embraced him. And after all the kings had desisted following him, Janardana set out with a cheerful heart on his car drawn by Saivya, Sugriva, and others. And those steeds of Vasudeva, urged by Daruka, coursed onwards, devouring the sky and drinking the road. And on his way Kesava of mighty arms met with some Rishis blazing with Brahmic lustre, standing on both sides of the road, And soon alighting from his car, Janardana saluted them reverently. And worshipping them duly, he enquired of them, saying, 'Is there peace in all the world? Is virtue being duly practised? And the other three orders obedient to the Brahmanas? And having duly worshipped them, the slayer of Madhu again said, 'Where have ye been crowned with success? Whither would ye go, and for what object? What also shall I do for yourselves? What has brought your illustrious selves down on the earth?' Thus addressed, Jamadagni's son, the friend of Brahma--that lord of both gods and Asuras,--approached Govinda the slayer of Madhu, embraced him, and said, 'The celestial Rishis of pious deeds, and Brahmanas of extensive acquaintance with the scriptures, and royal sages, O Dasarha, and venerable ascetic,--these witnesses, O illustrious one, of the former feats of gods and Asuras,--are desirous of beholding all the Kshatriyas of the earth assembled from every side as also the counsellors sitting in the assembly, the kings, and thyself the embodiment of truth, O Janardana. O Kesava, we will go thither for beholding that grand sight. We are also anxious, O Madhava, to listen to those words fraught with virtue and profit, which will be spoken by thee, O chastiser of foes, unto the Kurus in the presence of all the kings. Indeed, Bhishma, and Drona, and others, as also the illustrious Vidura and thyself, O tiger among the Yadavas,--Ye all will be assembled together in conclave! We desire, O Madhava, to hear the excellent, truthful, and beneficial words that thou wilt utter and they also, O Govinda. Thou art now informed of our purpose, O thou of mighty arms. We will meet thee again. Go thither safely, O hero. We hope to see thee in the midst of the conclave, seated on an excellent seat mustering all thy energy and might.'"
Next: Section LXXXIV